Binge-Watching the News

With the advent of streaming video services — and abetted by COVID-19 lockdowns — people seem to have taken up the habit of binge-watching — streaming successive episodes of a given series for hours and days on end.

Because I don’t find that much of what passes for popular entertainment these days terribly compelling, but because I was afraid I might miss something if I didn’t join the binge-watching craze, I decided to binge-watch the news for an entire weekend.

The experience taught me 11 things:

  1. There isn’t any more news.
  2. Political narratives aren’t news.
  3. Ideological opinions aren’t news.
  4. The cult of personality isn’t news.
  5. No one espousing political narratives or ideological opinions — or trading on the cult of personality — is capable of reporting the news.
  6. Empiricism, logic, common sense, intellectual curiosity, independent thought, and objectivity are dead.
  7. The expression, “You’re entitled to your own opinion, but you’re not entitled to your own facts,” is dead.
  8. Lord of the Flies, 1984, Brave New World, and Frankenstein can no longer be categorized as fiction. They’re now re-classified as pre-history or history. But they’re definitely non-fiction.
  9. When Karl Marx wrote, “Die Religion … ist das Opium des Volke” (religion is the opium of the people), he was wrong. What passes for news is the opium of the people.
  10. Scientists who contend it’s impossible for brain tissue to be turned into oatmeal have never watched what passes for news (or Oprah).
  11. If you watch the news long enough, you’ll end up drowsy-eyed and slack-jawed; and you can actually get dehydrated from drooling.

Is There a Pill for That?

When the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-6) is published in 2023, it will add Watching What Passes For News (WWPFN) as a mental-health condition. Unlike all the other conditions in the DSM, however, WWPFN isn’t treatable. Some of its symptoms can be assuaged superficially — bulging eyes, thousand-yard stares, excessive drooling, profound torpor, constant fear, loss of speech and functional literacy, absence of family or social life, et al. But WWPFN can only be cured by Pre-Frontal Lobotomy (PFL), in which case, those duly lobotomized will be qualified to broadcast what passes for news (WPFN).

If you’d like to pre-order your very own copy of DSM-6 call 1-800-GET-WPFN. If you’d like a job broadcasting WPFN, binge-watch it for at least 24 hours, then get in line for your PFL.

Good luck.


Mark O'Brien
Mark O'Brien
I’m a business owner. My company — O’Brien Communications Group (OCG) — is a B2B brand-management and marketing-communication firm that helps companies position their brands effectively and persuasively in industries as diverse as: Insurance, Financial Services, Senior Living, Manufacturing, Construction, and Nonprofit. We do our work so well that seven of the companies (brands) we’ve represented have been acquired by other companies. OCG is different because our business model is different. We don’t bill by the hour or the project. We don’t bill by time or materials. We don’t mark anything up. We don’t take media commissions. We pass through every expense incurred on behalf of our clients at net. We scope the work, price the work, put beginning and end dates on our engagements, and charge flat, consistent fees every month for the terms of the engagements. I’m also a writer by calling and an Irish storyteller by nature. In addition to writing posts for my company’s blog, I’m a frequent publisher on LinkedIn and Medium. And I’ve published three books for children, numerous short stories, and other works, all of which are available on Amazon under my full name, Mark Nelson O’Brien.

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